How PLNU’s Master of Science in Athletic Training Walks You Along Your Own Track

Do you want to become an athletic trainer but also yearn for versatility in your career? Point Loma Nazarene University’s Master of Science in Athletic Training offers three concentrations that will prepare you to become a certified athletic trainer and teach anatomy, work with professional athletes, or work in occupational settings.

What is a Master of Science in Athletic Training?

A Master of Science in Athletic Training (MS-AT) is a graduate degree that prepares students for a career as a certified athletic trainer (AT). ATs are healthcare professionals who work to evaluate and treat musculoskeletal injuries with physicians, patients, and clients. The diligences provided by ATs include therapeutic intervention, preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.


ATs can work in a variety of settings; from traditional school settings — high schools, colleges, and universities — to professional sports settings and even in the military and occupational medicine.

An AT’s career trajectory will always be versatile, as athletic training is a valued skill that correlates with a high-demand degree and job outlook. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, athletic training employment is projected to grow 17% from 2021 to 2031, compared to the 5% estimated change in employment for all occupations.

Point Loma Nazarene University’s MS-AT program has an expected completion time of five years for students without a bachelor’s degree and two years for students with a bachelor’s degree. There’s no distinct undergraduate degree requirement for students who are interested in entering the program. As long you meet the following prerequisites, you can apply:

  • Anatomy and physiology with a lab
  • Physics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Exercise physiology
  • Psychology

Common undergraduate degrees of students in PLNU’s MS-AT program include:

  • Kinesiology
  • Applied health science
  • Health and human performance
  • Nutrition
  • Business

PLNU’s Three MS-AT Concentrations

While you can choose to solely graduate with a Master of Science in Athletic Training, PLNU’s MS-AT program also offers three concentrations. Each concentration gives you the power to become both an AT and an expert in your topic of choice. The concentrations let you pursue your vocation and calling, while becoming more marketable to future employers through tailored courses.

Below are the concentrations offered in the university’s MS-AT program:

  • Anatomy Education
  • Biomechanics
  • Sport Performance

“These concentrations were designed to give students the power to choose their career path. Not only does our program prepare our students to become athletic trainers, but they can also become a strength and conditioning coach, a biomechanist, or they can even teach. Our hope is that our students become versatile athletic trainers who can fill a variety of roles within healthcare."
— Dr. Ryan Nokes, Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Clinical Coordinator of the Athletic Training Program

Check out the day in the life of a PLNU athletic training graduate student here!

Anatomy Education

The anatomy education concentration is geared toward students who aspire to teach anatomy, athletic training, or sports medicine. Students will be prepared to teach in college and university settings or within career technical education (CTE) pathways in high schools.

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While you don’t need a teaching credential to teach CTE courses, the concentration prepares you for classrooms of all levels. In the Teaching and Learning in Anatomy course, you’ll grasp the best practices in the scholarship of teaching and learning. You’ll also have hands-on experience in the anatomy laboratory and classroom as a teaching assistant.

Being a hybrid program, you’ll also use cutting-edge technology to learn in-depth anatomy with a human body donor.

This concentration is also a great option if you’re looking to pursue a doctorate in athletic training, philosophy, or education.

The courses tailored to this concentration are:

  • Clinical Anatomy
  • Teaching and Learning in Anatomy
  • Anatomy Clinical Practice

Possible Careers with the Anatomy Education Concentration

High school anatomy teacher

Median salary: $43,099
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 5%

Community college anatomy teacher

Median salary: $44,221
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 12%

Part-time or adjunct anatomy professor at a university

Median salary: $93,600
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 12%


The biomechanics concentration focuses on using 3D motion-capture technology to analyze joint motion and movement in sports. This concentration is designed for students who are interested in using hands-on, practical application with professional sports teams and athletes. Courses specifically found in this concentration include:

  • Biomechanics and Neurological Basis of Human Movement
  • Internship in Kinesiology (Advanced Biomechanics)

This concentration is particularly great for students who have an interest in professional baseball. Per the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “the biomechanics of baseball pitching is studied to improve performance and prevent and/or rehabilitate injury.”

In the Internship in Kinesiology course, students have the opportunity to work with the San Diego Padres pitching staff to match body movement with ball metrics with the Director of the Kinesiology Biomechanics Lab, Arnel Aguinaldo, Ph.D., ATC. As part of the learning and networking experience, Aguinaldo annually takes students to MLB Spring Training in Arizona to evaluate the Padres’ pitching staff.

Possible Careers with the Biomechanics Concentration

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the “employment of bioengineers and biomedical engineers is projected to grow 10% from 2021 to 2031.” This is faster than the average employment growth for all occupations.

Hospital systems also hire biomechanists, such as Rady Children’s Hospital, which has its own Orthopedic Biomechanics Research Center.

Certified MLB athletic trainer

Median salary: $60,079
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 17%


Median salary: $83,676
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 10%

Sport Performance

The sport performance concentration is the most popular concentration in PLNU’s Master of Science in Athletic Training program. Students in this concentration will learn how to incorporate the principles of strength training and conditioning in a wide variety of populations. These populations include but are not limited to:

  • Youth
  • High school
  • Collegiate
  • Military
  • Firefighters
  • Law enforcement
  • First responders
  • Company employees

Students will learn coaching, weight training, injury analysis, energy systems analysis, testing, and exercise programming. After graduating, you’ll also be fully eligible to take the NSCA Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) Exam

The courses students will take in the sport performance concentration are:

  • Foundations of Coaching and Testing in Sport Performance
  • Tactical Strength Training and Conditioning

Typically, students in this concentration have the goal to become athletic trainers at the collegiate or professional level. They may also plan to go into occupational medicine. 

Possible Careers with the Sport Performance Concentration

College head athletic trainer

Median salary: $73,000
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 17%

Strength and conditioning coach

Median salary: $52,759
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 19%

Occupational/Industrial athletic trainer

More recently, companies have started hiring athletic trainers to help mitigate workers’ compensation costs. Occupational/industrial athletic trainers work from an injury-preventative standpoint. They also treat musculoskeletal pathologies employees may get on site. 

Median salary: $58,744
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 17%

Military athletic trainer

Median salary: $49,582
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 17%

Athletic trainer physician extender

ATs in physician practice can work in primary care, children’s care, in clinical and surgical settings and more.

Median salary: $73,567
Projected percent employment increase from 2021 to 2031: 17%

Balboa Campus

The majority of the MS-AT program courses are held in PLNU’s Balboa Regional Center. The Balboa campus is home to our graduate programs in the university’s College of Health Sciences.

This facility offers a state-of-the-art athletic training lab, a center for human performance, the OSCE lab, a skills lab, student collaborative spaces, and much more. 

PLNU's Balboa Regional Center


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